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Scabies in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 4, 2024.

What is scabies?

Scabies is a skin condition that is caused by scabies mites. Scabies mites are tiny bugs that burrow, lay eggs, and live underneath the skin. Scabies is spread through close contact with a person who has scabies. This includes sleeping in the same bed, or sharing towels or clothing. Scabies can spread quickly and must be treated as soon as it is found.

What are the signs and symptoms of scabies?

You may not know your child has scabies until a few weeks after mites are under the skin. Scabies mites are too small to be seen on his or her body. Your child may have any of the following:

How is scabies diagnosed and treated?

Your child's healthcare provider will examine your child's skin. He or she will put mineral oil on your child's skin and scrape it across with a small blade. The skin scraping will be checked under a microscope for eggs, mites, or their droppings. Your child's provider may want to treat scabies even if signs of mites are not found. Several kinds of medicine may be used to treat scabies. The medicine may be a cream or pill. Always follow the directions for the scabies medicine you are given for your child:

What can I do to help relieve my child's itching?

Your child's skin may continue to itch for 2 or 3 weeks, even after the scabies mites are gone. Over-the-counter antihistamines or cortisone cream may help relieve itching. Ask your child's provider what medicine you may use for the itching. Trim your child's fingernails so he or she does not spread any mites that are still alive after treatment. Do not let your child scratch his or her skin. Scratches may cause a skin infection. Put mittens on small children to keep them from scratching. A cool bath may also help relieve your child's itching.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How do I prevent the spread of scabies?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.